West My Friend: In Constellation

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Canadian folk trio West My Friend have roped in a symphony orchestra and choir to go with their regular guitar, mandolin and accordion for this new album. If your record collection is stuffed with 50s style crooners and big bands accompanied by an accordion, this is for you. For the rest of us, it’s an album that struggles to be one thing or another.

It opens with singer Eden Oliver doing solo blues with Fall Knows, in which she goes jazzy and scats a little. Salt Water follows, the orchestra appearing and the sound going from winsome folk to swelling strings and then a kind of Sinatra-esque glossy big band sound. You might like it, to our ears it’s just jarring.

West My Friend are probably nice people and good musicians — they’ve gigged loads and play in schools, introducing kids to their traditional music — but this is a bit of a misfire, admirable ambition getting in the way of the person sitting down to listen to it. One for ardent fans of Americana only, probably.

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